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Thursday 12 December 2013

Thoughts on Death in Advent Part 12

I had referred in a previous post in this mini-series that our guardian angels will accompany us both at our particular judgement and the final one. Here is the needed second reference. The previous post is found here.

The text on The Last Four Things, which I have just found this morning, referring to the fact that our guardian angels will be with us, is from Chapter Nine of this book by....

The guardian angels will lead those who have been committed to their charge to the judgment-seat of God, and then the just will fall before Him in lowly adoration. The evil enemy will then begin to accuse them, and bring forward everything that he can against them. But the guardian angel will defend his client, he will produce all his good works, his penances, his virtues, and lay them in the scales of divine justice. And if they are not too light, Christ will array him in the new robe, the garment of splendor, and crown him with the diadem of the eternal kingdom. Who can tell what the glory of that moment will be ! How all the just will rejoice that their lot is among the blessed ! How kindly the choir of angels will congratulate them, and exult with them in blissful jubilation. And how all who are yet waiting for their sentence will marvel at the glory that is theirs, and long to share it with them.

Both of these quotations are not part of the infallible doctrines of the Church, but part of saintly meditations. 

Persecution Watch from Reuters!

The Worm And The Thresher

A thought: why do we always think of prophets are really old? They started out young. Here is Raphael's Isaiah.

God will hear the cry of the poor, be assured, little "puny mites" as one translation states.

Isaiah 41:13-29

13 For I am the Lord thy God, who take thee by the hand, and say to thee: Fear not, I have helped thee.
14 Fear not, thou worm of Jacob, you that are dead of Israel: I have helped thee, saith the Lord: and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel.
15 I have made thee as a new thrashing wain, with teeth like a saw: thou shall thrash the mountains, and break them in pieces: and shalt make the hills as chaff.
16 Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, in the Holy One of Israel thou shalt be joyful.
17 The needy and the poor seek for waters, and there are none: their tongue hath been dry with thirst. I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers in the high bills, and fountains in the midst of the plains: I will turn the desert into pools of waters, and the impassable land into streams of waters.
19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, and the thorn, and the myrtle, and the olive tree: I will set in the desert the fir tree, the elm, and the box tree together:
20 That they may see and know, and consider, and understand together that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.
21 Bring your cause near, saith the Lord: bring hither, if you have any thing to allege, saith the King of Jacob.
22 Let them come, and tell us all things that are to come: tell us the former things what they were: and we will set our heart upon them, and shall know the latter end of them, and tell us the things that are to come.
23 shew the things that are to come hereafter, and we shall know that ye are gods. Do ye also good or evil, if you can: and let us speak, and see together.
24 Behold, you are of nothing, and your work of that which hath no being: he that hath chosen you is an abomination.
25 I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come from the rising of the sun: he shall call upon my name, and he shall make princes to be as dirt, and as the potter treading clay.
26 Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know: and from time of old, that we may say: Thou art just. There is none that sheweth, nor that foretelleth, nor that heareth your words.
27 The first shall say to Sion: Behold they are here, and to Jerusalem I will give an evangelist.
28 And I saw, and there was no one even among them to consult, or who, when I asked, could answer a word.

Advent Meditation on Death Part 11

St. John the Baptist is one of my favorite saints. I love his holiness, his boldness, his commitment to truth, his courage and his recognition of Christ. He was not conceived without Original Sin, as was Our Lady Mary, but he was born without Original Sin, having received the Holy Spirit when in the womb-a singular gift not even given to the Great St. Joseph.

St. John the Baptist, therefore, had no concupiscence, but only a life in sanctifying grace. As far as possible, with prevenient grace, he was spared for his work as the new Elijah, preparing the way of the Lord. He is honored greatly in the Eastern rites of the Church. The Byzantines seem always to have his icon on the iconostasis. The Western, Latin Rite would do well to pay more attention to him.

At his birthplace, this iconostasis separates the sacred place of the priest from that of the people.

 In Advent, we read about St. John, of course. I shall only quote a snippet from today's Gospel in the NO.

Matthew 11:11-25

11 Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.
Christ is referring to the Old Testament prophets and to us-the violent bear the kingdom of God away, into their heart, their minds, their souls.
Again, the violent are those who are willing to allow God to be violent with them-those who willingly suffer.
Those who cannot accept suffering may have this passage--The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and those who seek comfort will lose it.

St. John lived in the desert eating locusts for protein and honey for sugars. He drank water and presumably no wine. He mortified himself, although he was not sinful.

Why? For OUR sake-he was doing penance for sinners and to help those who were to be called by Christ recognize Him.

We do something similar in the process of dying. We are mortified in illness, poverty, whatever suffering.

In Advent, we cannot get away from St. John the Baptist who tells us to repent, to be purified, to accept and even seek suffering. Let us follow him.

Death is the final mortification.

Prayers, again please

Prayer for Bishop Alvaro del Portillo's intercession

Prayer for private devotion.

Opus Dei -
O God, merciful Father, you granted your servant Álvaro, Bishop, the grace of being an exemplary pastor in the service of the Church, and a most faithful son and successor of Saint Josemaría, the founder of Opus Dei. Grant that I too may respond faithfully to the demands of the Christian vocation, turning all the circumstances and events of my life into opportunities to love you and serve the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Deign to glorify your servant Álvaro, and through his intercession grant me the favor I request ... (here make your petition). Amen.

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be to the Father.

In conformity with the decrees of Pope Urban VIII, we declare that there is no intention of anticipating in any way the judgment of the Church, and that this prayer is not intended for public us

An Essential Watch, Please

Pray to the Sacred Heart-watch this entire video and think on the loss of sovereignty is so many places. Pray the prayer at the end of the video to the Sacred Heart. Thank you.

Also, check out this link, noted at the end of Michael's video.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us

I ask Our Lady of Guadalupe today to pray for all babies in danger of abortion today and for all seminarians who are under pressures. I know several young men struggling with their vocations. Prayers, please.

Denying Objective Truth: Advent Meditation on Death Part 10

These meditations on death have moved from the process of death, the particular judgment to the final judgment. At this final judgement, an event prophesied in Scripture, by Christ Himself, we shall be separated goats and sheep.

Matthew 25:31-46

31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.
32 And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.
34 Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
One of the great evils of our time is the denial of the final judgement. Those who do not believe in a hell, or that anyone is in hell, are denying this passage; that sheep and goats find themselves on opposite sides. To deny a moment of separation, leading to reward or punishment, is to deny objective truth as spoken by God Himself.
To deny the separation of those who follow Christ and those who do not is a denial of objective truth.
At death, we stand before Innocence Himself, Purity Himself, Beauty Himself, Truth Himself, Goodness Himself. 
The particular judgement leads to the final judgement. That the Church teaches we endure both is a mystery of privacy vs. publicity. The particular judgement is our private judgement and the final judgement is our public judgement. All will see our sins and our merit, the latter gained through the grace of Christ and His Church.
To be continued....

Someone asked me this week why I liked Europe better....

  Reality is better than fiction, imo.

Well, the simplicity of life, the culture and the lack of sleep-walking.

Doctors of the Church 2:25

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Part 29 St. Thomas Aquinas and Perfection

It is only in the Unitive State that there is some semblance of perfection. Even St. Paul states that he is striving after this perfection and unity. The counsels are given here by Aquinas, as he shows us not only the words of Christ as to how to reach perfection, but those of the Fathers of the Church. However, I think that Paul did come into the unitive state, as I can  try to show later. Obviously, one is only completely perfected if one is without sin or any desires contrary to the Will of God. We call a person a saint, one who has been canonized, which is a recognition that they reached this state and are in heaven. When the Church declares a person canonized, that is infallible-blesseds are not so. 

 The saints vary on the ability of humans to be completely without sin. Some saints state, yes, and then we work on the "imperfections", which are not sin but the tendencies to sin in our souls.


The Perfection of Love of God That Falls Under Counsel
When St. Paul had said, “Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect,” and, “but I follow after, if I may by any means lay hold,” he added shortly afterwards, “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded.” From these words we can see that although the perfection of the blessed is not possible to us in this life, we ought, to strive to imitate it as far as we can. And it is in this that the perfection of this life consists to which we are invited by the counsels.
For it is manifest that the human heart is more intensely drawn to one thing, to the degree that it is drawn back from many things. Thus the more a man is freed from the affection for temporal things, the more perfectly his mind will be borne to loving God. Hence St. Augustine says that "the desire of temporal things is the poison of charity; the growth of charity is the diminishment of cupidity, and the perfection of charity is no cupidity." (Eighty-Three Questions, Book 83, Quest. 1). Therefore all the counsels, which invite us to perfection, aim at this, that man's mind be turned away from affection to temporal objects, so that his mind may tend more freely to God, by contemplating him, loving him, and fulfilling his will.


The First Way to Perfection, Which is the Renunciation of Temporal Things
Among temporal goods the first we should renounce are external goodswhich are called riches, and the Lord counseled this when he said, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matt. 19:21). The utility of this counsel is shown by what follows. The first evidence for this is what in fact happened next. For when the young man who was asking about perfection heard this response, he went away sad. And as St. Jerome says in his commentary on Matthew, “The cause of his sadness is stated: "He had many possessions," which were thorns and thistles that choked the seed of the Lord’s words.” And St. Chrysostom, explaining the same passage, says that, "those who possess little are not hindered in the same way as are those who abound in riches; for the increase of wealth enkindles a greater fire [of desire for wealth], and avarice grows stronger.” 

I like how the great saint uses the Fathers of the Church and other Doctors of the Church. His knowledge is amazing. Paul, Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine....

Of course, this first counsel is against the desire and accumulation of wealth and things. It is always harder to give up what we have than what we do not have.

St. Augustine, too, says in his letter to Paulinus and Therasia that “we are more firmly fetterd by love for the earthly things that we possess, than by desire for the things we seek; for why did this young man go away sad, except because he had many possessions? For it is one thing not to want to acquire things that we do not have, but quite another to give up the things we already have. For these things may be repudiated as extrinsic to ourselves, but to give up those things we already have is [experience] like giving up the limbs of our body.

It is not impossible for a rich man, but it is hard and here is the key--the Kingdom of God is the unity of the soul with God.

The utility of this counsel is secondly manifested by the words the Lord goes on to say, "It will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." For as St. Jerome says, “It is because it is hard to despise the riches that we have. Our Lord did not say that it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, but that it is hard. When he affirms difficulty, he does not indicate that it is impossible  but shows the rarity of it.” 

And, as St. Chrysostom says on the Gospel of St. Matthew, the Lord goes further, proving that it is impossible, when he says “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” “From these words,” says St. Augustine, “the disciples understood that all who covet riches are included in the number of the rich; otherwise, since the number of the wealthy is small in comparison with the multitude of the poor, the disciples would not have asked, “Who then can be saved?” (Questions on the Gospel)

Remember that the entire family of Bernard of Clairvaux gave up riches and status--can we be so brave?

Can we love so much?

From these two sayings of Our Lord it is clearly shown that it it hard for those who have riches to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. For as the Lord himself says elsewhere, “The cares of this world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22). Indeed it is impossible for those who love riches inordinately to enter heaven, and much more impossible than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. For the latter feat is impossible because it is contrary to nature, while the former is impossible because it is contrary to divine justice, which is more powerful than any created nature. From this, then, the reason for this divine counsel becomes evident; for a counsel is given concerning that which is more useful, according to what St. Paul says, “In this matter I give my advice, for this is useful for you” (2 Cor. 8:10). But to attain eternal life, it is more useful to give up riches than to possess them; for those who possess wealth will with difficulty enter the kingdom of heaven, since it is difficult for one's affection not to be bound to the riches that one possesses, which attachment to riches makes it impossible to enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore the Lord's counsel to renounce riches was a salutary counsel.

This all has to do with the heart. If your heart is stuffed full with things and people to who you are overly attached, there will be no room for God.

But someone might object, against the foregoing, that St. Matthew and Zaccheus had riches, and yet entered the kingdom of heaven. But St. Jerome answers this objection, saying, “We should consider that at the time when they entered, they had ceased to be wealthy.” But Abraham never ceased to be rich; he died a rich man, leaving his riches to his sons, as we read in Genesis. According to what was said he seems not to have been perfect, and yet the Lord said to him, “Be perfect” (Gen. 17:1)

How interesting is this comment on Abraham. God is indicating a path for perfection here. It is the WAY. It is the BEGINNING. A rich man like Abraham may come to perfection with grace but not without trials. Abraham's trial was the offering of his son, which God interrupted in mercy and grace.

This question could not be resolved if the perfection of Christian life consisted in the very renunciation of wealth. For it would follow that no one who possessed riches could be perfect. But if we consider the Lord's words carefully, he does not locate perfection in the very giving up of wealth, but shows that this is a certain way to perfection, as his very way of speaking shows, “If you would be perfect, go, sell all that you possess and give to the poor, and follow me,” indicating that perfection consists in the following of Christ, while the renunciation of riches is a way to perfection. 

Hence St. Jerome says on the Gospel of St. Matthew, “Since giving up our possessions is not sufficient, Peter adds that wherein perfection consists, when he says, ‘And we have followed you.’” Origen, too, says on the same passage, “The words, ‘if you would be perfect’ are not to be understood as though a man becomes immediately perfect when he has given his goods to the poor, but that from that time, the contemplation of God begins to lead him to all virtues.” 

In other words, we cannot begin our journey without being freed in the soul and mind and heart from riches.

For some of us, this takes a lifetime of denial, or loss. For others, this is a great gift of immediate hatred for things and position.

It can therefore happen that a rich man is perfect, clinging to God with perfect charity. And in this way Abraham, who possessed riches, was perfect--his soul was not entagled in riches, but was totally united to God. And this is what the words of the Lord spoken to him signify, “Walk before me and be perfect,” showing that his perfection lay in walking before God, and in loving Him completely, even unto the contempt of himself and of all that belonged to him. And he showed this especially in his readiness to sacrifice his son. Hence the Lord said to him, “Because you have done this, and for my sake have not withheld your son, I will bless you” (Gen. 22:16).

But if anyone wants to argue from this that the Lord's counsel about renouncing wealth is useless, because Abraham was perfect, though he possessed riches, the response to him is evident from what has been already said. For the reason the Lord gave this counsel was not because rich men cannot be perfect, or cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, but because they cannot do so easily. 

It is hard, simply put. And, therefore, we see how good, how virtuous was Abraham. 

The virtue of Abraham was therefore very great, that although he possessed wealth, his soul was detached from wealth. In a similar way Samson's strength was great, since armed only with the jawbone of an ass, he slew many enemies; and yet counsel is not uselessly given to a soldier to take up arms in combat with his foes. Neither, then, is it useless to counsel those who desire perfection to renounce their earthly goods, although Abraham was perfect with all his wealth.

Blessed man and we call him St. Abraham in the Catholic Church.

[Practical] conclusions are not to be drawn from wonderful deeds; for the weak are more capable of wondering at and praising such deeds than of imitating them. Hence we read in Sirach 31:8, “Blessed is the rich man who is found without stain, and who has not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money or in treasures.” This passage shows that the rich man who does not contract the stain of sin by the affection for riches, who does not go after gold by covetousness, nor extol himself over others by pride, trusting in his riches, is indeed a man of great virtue, and adhering to God with perfect charity

Hence St. Paul says to Timothy, “Charge the rich of this world not to be high-minded, nor to trust in the uncertainty of riches” (1 Tim. 6:17). But the greater the blessedness and the virtue of rich persons of this kind, the smaller is their number. Hence [the passage of Sirach] continues, “Who is he, and we will praise him? for he has done wonderful things in his life.” For truly he who while abounding in riches has not set his heart upon them has done wonderful things, and if there is such a person, he has without doubt been proven perfect. Hence it continues, “Who has been tried therein,” i.e., as to whether he can live a sinless life while possessing riches, “and found perfect?” as though it were to say: “such a man is rare," and for him "it will merit for him eternal glory,” which is in harmony with the saying of the Lord, that "it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

And, God gives His gifts and graces to whom He Wills. We are not to be upset or envious of this fact.

For most of us, the way is not riches, but poverty, either by will or by circumstance.

Abraham's heart, soul and mind were free to love God totally.

This, then, is the first way for reaching perfection, that someone, out of the desire to follow Christ, renounces riches and chooses poverty.
To be continued.........................